The Grand Conversation Podcast brings together scholars and educators to explore the opportunities and challenges of contemporary Jewish educational curriculum, culture and policy.
- Conflict, Crisis, and Communication: A Conversation with Rabbi Dr. Daniel Roth
This podcast is part of a series of episodes devoted to important conversations we are having at Machon Siach in the aftermath of the October 7th Hamas Terror attacks on Israel, the subsequent military campaign in Gaza, and the impact of the war on Am Yisrael around the world.
This episode features an eye-opening discussion between Rabbi Tully Harcsztark and Rabbi Dr. Daniel Roth- the director of Mosaica, an Israeli NGO focusing on insider religious mediation.
What exactly does the work of insider religious mediation look like during a war?
Is there ongoing dialogue between religious leaders in Muslim and Jewish communities in the Middle East at this terrible time?
What should we as high school educators be teaching our students about the role of religion in this seemingly intractable conflict?
- Our Kids On Campus: Where Are We Now, Where Are We Going?
“This special episode of the Grand Conversation, recorded at the end of October, is devoted to important, complex, and ongoing issues being discussed in our community in this Post-October 7th world:
How can we meaningfully connect with and support our alumni on college campuses, and how are we helping parents and current SAR HS students navigate the college guidance process?
Our guest host is Dr. Rivka Press Schwartz, Associate Principal of SAR HS and Director of Research and Program Development at Machon Siach. Our two guests are leaders of SAR High School’s College Counseling team, Mr. Michael Courtney, Director of College Counseling at SAR HS and Ms. Michelle Biller-Levy, Associate Director of College Counseling at SAR HS and Director of Post-Graduate Initiatives, at Machon Siach.”
- The Heroes of Israel’s Volunteer Civil Service
This special episode of the Grand Conversation emerged from the meaningful UJA mission to Israel that our Founding Principal Rabbi Tully Harcsztark was fortunate to join. On that mission, Rabbi Harcsztark ran into Effie Shoham- Shteiner in Jerusalem, an historian specializing in Medieval Jewish History. He is an associate professor at Ben-Gurion University in Be’er-Shevah. Since October 7th, Effie has not been pursuing his academic interests. Instead, he has been volunteering around-the-clock on behalf of the citizens of Medinat Yisrael, especially those from the south who were most directly impacted by the October 7th attack. We are honored to share with you Rabbi Harcsztark in conversation with Effie about the work he has been doing since October 7th.
- Translating Talmud Series: Bridging Scholarship and Students
This special series of the Grand Conversation is devoted to the topic of Gemara Education. Our guest host is Rabbi Tully Harcsztark, Founding Principal of SAR HS and Dean of Machon Siach.
Over the past several years, Machon Siach has convened a Faculty Beit Midrash to develop a shared language for teaching gemara to Modern Orthodox High School students. As part of its research, faculty collaborate with scholars in the field to discuss ways to meaningfully translate their scholarship into the classroom.
This series features one-on-one conversations between Rabbi Harcsztark and outstanding gemara scholars.
In this first episode of the series, Rabbi Harcsztark and Dr. Elana Stein Hain have a timely discussion on whether and how to teach the talmudic sugya of redeeming captives in the aftermath of the Hamas terror attacks and taking of some 200 Israeli hostages. They also discuss Dr. Stein Hain’s research (and soon-to-be-published book Circumventing the Law) on legal loopholes in rabbinic literature and how to teach this subject to high school students and adults.
- Israel @75: Israel Education at SAR HS
This episode of the Grand Conversation Podcast, Israel @ 75, is devoted to a wide-ranging discussion of Israel education at SAR HS, featuring: Rabbi Tully Harcsztark, Principal of SAR HS and Dean Of Machon Siach; Ms. Rebecca Wolf, Coordinator of Israel Education and History faculty at SAR HS; and Mr. Yossi Ben-Harush, an Israeli educator who has been at SAR HS for the past two years teaching gemara, ivrit and Modern Israel. Our guests discuss several important questions about Israel Education at SAR HS, including: How has our approach to teaching Modern Israel evolved over the years? How do we navigate critical discussions of Israel current events in our history classrooms? How do we educate our students to participate in difficult discussions about Israel as insiders? What role does advocacy play in Israel education?
- Gemara Education: The High School Classroom and Beyond
In this episode of the Grand Conversation Podcast, Rabbanit Schlaff joins Rabbi Shmuel Hain to discuss the goals of high school gemara education, recent trends in gemara education in post high school yeshivot and midrashot, and how teaching Torah Shebe’al Peh at SAR High School has changed since the school’s founding twenty years ago.
- Making Sense of Gemara in the High School Classroom
This issue of INSIDE THE CONVERSATION features a conversation between Rabbi Harcsztark and Talmud professor Dr. Jeffrey Rubenstein about teaching gemara to high school students. This podcast offer an inside look at the important work of the Machon Siach Gemara Faculty Beit Midrash.
- To Thine Own Self Be True: Authenticity and Spirituality in the Modern Orthodox Classroom
This issue of INSIDE THE CONVERSATION is the third in our series on Spirituality and the Modern Orthodox Yeshiva High School. It focuses on the role of authenticity in the classroom and its connection with spirituality. Is there value for teachers and students to bring their spiritual identities in the classroom? How do teachers and students navigate authenticity when it does not align fully with the school’s values? To explore these questions, this issue features a paper by and podcast with Ms. Chana Krasnjanski, an SAR High School English teacher and a member of the Machon Siach Faculty Beit Midrash Spirituality workgroup.
- Spirituality and the Modern Orthodox Yeshiva Part II
This issue of INSIDE THE CONVERSATION is the second in our series on Spirituality and the Modern Orthodox Yeshiva High School. How can we help students create and deepen their inner spiritual lives? How can we utilize research on spiritual development in adolescents to encourage Jewish practice that is imbued with meaning?
- Spirituality and the Modern Orthodox Yeshiva Part I
This edition of INSIDE THE CONVERSATION kicks off a series on Spirituality and the Modern Orthodox Yeshiva High School. How can we help students create and deepen their inner spiritual lives? How can we utilize research on spiritual development in adolescents to encourage Jewish practice that is imbued with meaning? Rabbanit Lisa Schlaff and Dr. Gillian Steinberg coordinated the eight member Faculty Beit Midrash (FBM) group that brainstormed and researched these questions. This edition of Inside the Conversation features two of the FBM research papers and a podcast discussing the group’s work on spirituality.
- Between School & Home: What Covid-19 Taught Us About Policy
This edition of INSIDE THE CONVERSATION reflects on the feedback of a small focus group of teachers, parents and alumni organized by Dr. Tammy Jacobowitz and Ms. Shira Schiowitz. In response to the disruption caused by Covid-19, they wanted to think more deeply about the intersections between school, home and community and wondered what they could learn from this unusual moment in history about areas of potential alignment and tension between the values of school and home.
- Teaching American Zionism Through Civics Education
This edition of INSIDE THE CONVERSATION focuses on American Zionism and Israel education. It features an important essay by Rabbi Tully Harcsztark articulating an alternative approach to teaching American Zionist students the complexities of democratic governance in Israel through a comparison with American democracy and citizenship. The paper was written as part of a research group formed by Rabbi Harcsztark after an Encounter trip he took with other educators, academics, and rabbis. Professor Avi Helfand was part of that research group and he joined Rabbi Harcsztark for the podcast, guest hosted by Dr. Rivka Press Schwartz.
- Israel Education: Teaching The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
This edition of INSIDE THE CONVERSATION shares some of the important work of Machon Siach on the subject of Israel Education: Teaching the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Teaching about this conflict presents a unique challenge for yeshiva high school educators: How to simultaneously instill within students a strong connection to Israel and pride in the Zionist enterprise whiley laying bare the complex historical realities of Israel’s past and present? At its inception Machon Siach established a research cohort comprised of SAR High School administration and faculty and outside experts to explore this question in-depth. More recently, Machon Siach has partnered with the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace on a program for yeshiva high school principals and educators to engage with each other and with experts to learn more about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and share best practices for teaching.
- Theological Perspectives: Homosexuality in Contemporary Orthodox Thought
This edition of INSIDE THE CONVERSATION examines the question of Orthodoxy and Homosexuality from a theological perspective. While much discussion has been devoted to policy questions about inclusion in the Orthodox community, less attention has been paid to the deeper theological questions raised by the remarkable shifts in American society on gay marriage and related issues.
Rabbi Nati Helfgot surveys the range of theological perspectives on this issue in an important research paper and in a podcast with Rabbi Shmuel Hain.
- Citizenship in the Modern Orthodox Community
This pre-election day edition of INSIDE THE CONVERSATION focuses on the critical work of our Citizenship research group. Following the 2016 election, Machon Siach convened a research group to take a step back and examine several core questions: What aspects of citizenship should be essential to American Modern Orthodox Jews? How do we educate our students towards broader civic engagement in addition to advocacy for parochial concerns? What impact does our commitment to religious Zionism and Medinat Yisrael have on our obligations as citizens?
Dr. Rivka Press Schwartz explores these questions and more in a thought provoking paper and in a pre-election podcast with Rabbi Shmuel Hain.
- Israel Education at SAR: Teaching of Israeli History at a Modern Orthodox Day School
This edition of INSIDE THE CONVERSATION focuses on the critical work of our Israel Education faculty research group. How do we foster strong identification with Medinat Yisrael while simultaneously teaching history critically and comprehensively? Ms. Adina Shoulson, SAR High School History Department Chair, and Dr. Laura Shaw Frank, AJC Director of Contemporary Jewish Life and former Director of Israel Guidance at SAR High School, explore this question from a number of perspectives.
- Educational Deliberations: On Teaching the Concept of Shevut
Machon Siach at SAR High School’s Gemara Education Cohort bridges together the theory and practice of teaching Torah Sheb’al Peh in a Modern Orthodox Yeshiva High School. In this second edition of INSIDE THE CONVERSATION examines the impact of our unique milieu on the way we teach challenging topics like the rabbinic prohibitions of Shabbat. Rabbi Tully Harcsztark‘s insightful paper explores the different methodologies to be employed in order to have these prohibitions “make sense” to teachers and students. The paper presents a model for how to learn, teach and discuss Torah in-depth in our schools and communities.
- The Use of Metaphors in Discussing Homosexuality
This inaugural edition of INSIDE THE CONVERSATION is devoted to Dr. Gillian Steinberg’s research on “The Use of Metaphor in Discussions of Homosexuality.”
WATCH…Dr. Steinberg’s “Siach Talk” highlighting the educational and communal importance of the topic.